Lories & Lorikeets
pet bird

Lories & Lorikeets

Black Winged Lorikeet
Black Winged Lorikeet

Lories and lorikeets information

Lories and lorikeets are small to medium-sized parrots. They live in forests throughout the Australasian region, including south-eastern Asia, Australia, Polynesia, and Papua New Guinea. Most species have a flamboyantly colored plumage.  

There is no steadfast rule regarding the use of the two terms "lory" and "lorikeet", just like there are no unswerving rules for parrot vs. parakeet. Generally speaking, the term lorikeet is more commonly used for species with elongated tapering tails, while species with shorter and blunter tails tend to be called lories.

Lories and lorikeets feed on nectar, pollen and soft fruits. In order to get to the nectar, they have developed specialized brush-tipped tongues. (See section about feeding.)

Lories and lorikeets have tapered wings and pointed tails that give them the agility needed to manoeuvre through the air in densely grown tropical forests.

Lories and lorikeets taxonomy

Lories and lorikeets have traditionally been placed in their own subfamily (Loriinae) within the parrot family Psittacidae, but this idea is now being challenged by new research. The issue has not yet been resolved.


Kingdom:      Animalia
Phylum:         Chordata
Class:            Aves
Order:           Psittaciformes
Family:          Psittacidae
Subfamily:    Loriinae (traditional view, may be changed in the future)

Lories and lorikeets care

Important information for prospective lory keepers  

Before you decide to get a lory or lorikeet, it is important to familiarize yourself with national and international trade regulations regarding parrots. Since so many parrots are endangered in the wild, even non-endangered parrot species are protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). This doesn’t mean that it is illegal to purchase parrots; only that you have to adhere to certain regulations designed to prevent wild caught endangered parrots from entering the market.

As of 2009, 56 parrot varieties are listed on CITES appendix 1 (endangered species) and all the other ones are listed on CITES appendix 2 (vulnerable species). Import, export and trade in wild-caught specimens of appendix I species is illegal, but can be permitted with a licenses in exceptional circumstances.

Captive bred appendix I species are considered appendix II specimens when it comes to trade, and you can therefore purchase them legally as long as you adhere to the requirements of appendix II.

Don’t forget that national legislation in your country can differ from international regulations.

The Ultramarine Lorikeet (Vini ultramarina) is listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, since it is only found on three tiny islands and the minuscule populations on two of these may vanish in the near future (if they have not already done so) since black rats have recently become established on both islands. Other examples of lory or lorikeet species listed as endangered or critically endangered are Kuhl's Lorikeet (Vini kuhlii), Blue-fronted Lorikeet (Charmosyna toxopei), and New Caledonian Lorikeet (Charmosyna diadema).

Caring for lories and lorikeets
Lories and lorikeets are active and energetic birds in the wild as well as in captivity and must be provided with suitable outlets for all their energy if you want them to thrive. Not giving them enough exercise, play and social interaction can lead to unwanted or even harmful behaviors, such as feather plucking. Since there are so many species of lory and lorikeet, it is important to research your particular species to find out its specific care requirement. It is impossible to provide lory and lorikeet care guidelines that will be true for all species.

Feeding lories and lorikeets        

Lories and lorikeets eat nectar, pollen and soft fruit in the wild and are equipped with specialized brush-tipped tongues that make it possible for them to reach the nectar inside flowers. On the tip of the tongue, these birds have tufts of extremely fine hairs, so called papillae. They are capable of reaching nectar from the flowers of roughly 5,000 species of plants. Research your particular species of lory or lorikeet to find out its nutritional requirements.

Breeding lories and lorikeets

The breeding habits of lory and lorikeets vary so you need to obtain specific information regarding your particular species or at least regarding members of the same genus. Many different species of lory and lorikeet have been successfully bred in captivity, in cages as well as in aviaries.

Lories and lorikeet health

It can be hard to determine the exact cause of illness in a sick lory or lorikeet, since many diseases manifest in similar symptoms. If possible, bring your bird to a veterinarian specializing in pet birds. Also try to determine any underlying cause of the problem, such as draft, stress, improper diet, boredom, etc. Lories and lorikeets that do not get enough exercise, mental stimulation and social interaction can become so depressed that it harms their immune system and make them highly susceptible to disease.

Visible signs of illness in lories and lorikeets:

  1. sleeping more than normally
  2. eating less than normally
  3. screaming more than normally or screaming in a different way
  4. faeces do not look normal anymore
  5. ruffled plumage
  6. plumage looses its normal lustre
  7. feather plucking
  8. bare spots appearing in the plumage
  9. discharge flowing from nostrils
  10. the bird sneezes (more than just occasionally)
  11. the bird displays slit eyes instead of round eyes

Lories and lorikeets facts

Lories and lorikeets fact # 1
Kuhl's Lorikeet (Vini kuhlii) is named after Heinrich Kuhl, a German naturalist and zoologist famous for publishing monographs on bats and petrels and for studying the animals of Java. Heinrich Kuhl lived 1797-1821 and died on Java of a liver infection after spending less than a year there. 

Lories and lorikeets fact # 2
Rainbow Lorikeets are attracted to flowering eucalyptus trees and will move to such areas during the right time of year.

Lories and lorikeets fact # 3
The spectacularly multi-colored Rainbow Lorikeet (Trichoglossus haematodus) was one of the species of parrots appearing in the famous first edition of The Parrots of the World. This charismatic lorikeet also appeared in John Gould's lithographs of the Birds of Australia.

Lories and lorikeets fact # 4
Lories and lorikeets are preyed upon by many larger birds, such as brown falcons, peregrine falcons and whistling kites. Pythons are also known to devour lories and lorikeets.

Lories and lorikeets fact # 5
In 2008, a lost lorikeet from Sidney could be reunited with its rightful owner thanks to its fondness of cleaning teeth. When a beautiful Rainbow Lorikeet was found in Belrose Park, a lot of people stepped forward claiming it was their lost lorikeet. However, only one of them described him by saying “If you open your mouth, he will stick his head in and clean your teeth.” Meanwhile, the finder of the lorikeet had already become familiar with this quirky habit and the bird could be promptly reunited with its keeper.

Lories and lorikeet lifespan

The expected life span of lories and lorikeets varies from species to species. Some of the most long-lived ones can exceed an age of 30 years.


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